Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dogeaters” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  1,804 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
In Dogeaters, Jessica Hagedorn has transformed her best-selling novel about the Philippines during the Marcos reign into an equally powerful theatrical piece that is a multilayered, operatic tour de force. As Harold Bloom writes "Hagedorn expresses the conflicts experienced by Asian immigrants caught between cultures...she takes aim at racism in the U.S. and develops in he ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 1st 1991 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dogeaters, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dogeaters

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
1.5 stars

The rating on this one kept slipping the more I read. I started with, OK, this might be interesting; moved to, This is totally nonsensical, no more; and culminated in: What the fuckety fuck, I mean, WTF??? WHAT?

This book in a nutshell: BIG. HOT. MESS. Sizzling MESS!

Like this:

Also like this:

Rather than write a novel, Hagedorn threw together a series of stories. No, scratch that. These aren't stories. They're vignettes, snatches of lives, bits of memories, crumbs of experience. The prob
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 01, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books
My very first time to read a novel by Jessica Hagedorn (born 1949), a Philippine-born American novelist, playwright, poet and multimedia performance artist. I purchased my copy of this book in 2010 but postponed reading this several times because of what a friend said that it is similar to Miguel Syjuco's Ilustrado (2 stars). That this and Syjuco's are both composed of short stories or vignettes with no cohesion because of the absence of unifying theme. That both are trying hard to be seen as po ...more
Jim Fonseca
Sep 13, 2015 Jim Fonseca rated it really liked it
Remember Ferdinand Marcos, dictator of the Philippines, and his wife Imelda with her storage rooms filled with 3,000 pairs of shoes? This novel, published in 1990, came out of that era. Of course it has to reflect the clash of classes – the ultra-rich and the have-nots. So we have one set of characters who are super-wealthy; tied to the dictator and his cronies, the businessmen, the generals and the high administrative officials who have mansions, luxury cars, lavish parties, servants and beauty ...more
Dec 28, 2010 L rated it really liked it
Quite a frenetic and schizophrenic book. I can see that Hagedorn was attempting to create an intricate picture of the mostly seedy underbelly of Manila but it felt a bit crowded. For example, there is a kind of *gasp* moment near the end that I just shrugged at because I couldn't remember why that character was important. I don't know that it benefited from its large cast of characters. I also don't like feeling cheated at the end and I felt a bit of that reading the two conflicting accounts of ...more
Ervin Patrick
Sep 03, 2012 Ervin Patrick rated it really liked it
My Year-End (2012) and Year-Start (2013, of course) Read

First read: perplexing

Second read: still somehow perplexing

This book is filled with too many perplexing events! Too many perplexing people! Perplexing Hagedornish writing style! I had the difficulty of reading between the lines; of trying to understand what the author was trying to say. But perhaps that was because, as much as I love Historical Fiction, I don't know much about my country's (I'm Filipino, by the way) history - the heyday of
May 28, 2008 Deion rated it it was amazing
I can't give a full evaluation of this book as of yet, but I can say that if you're at all interested in learning about gritty side of Filipino politics, history, and identity, then this book is for you. The language is cryptic, yet bold, and maybe even brash. The way that Hagedorn is able to tell the individual stories of people from various levels of society is masterful. I'm reading this slowly, as it is very rich in detail and I don't want to miss anything!
Nov 08, 2012 Greg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the second book I've read that takes place in the Philippines, and like the first book I read about the country (Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere) I enjoyed it very much. Such depth in detail of the main characters and locales, the use of real primary sources (such as President McKinley's diary entry) and farce primary sources to add to the feel of truth v. truth (printed v. gossip). Overall, a great piece of literature that I'm proud to have added to my collection.
Feb 28, 2011 Kat added it
Dogeaters is a penetrating analysis of the modern history of the Philippines depicting the harsh realities of a politically corrupt system. It reflects the reality of what the current political figures in society are like and how their actions, beliefs, and decisions affect every person in the country on one level or another. The connections between the characters are complex and the political dynamic of the Philippines is inundated with deception, controversy, scandal, and intrigue. All of the ...more
With very mixed reviews, I wasn't sure I was going to opt in when this book was chosen for Wall St Journal Bookclub, but I read the Kindle sample and was hooked. Manila in the not too distant past; a cast of thousands (ok, dozens); poverty and privilege; vice, corruption, violence, pop culture, innocence, religion, family and friendships. Dogeaters has it all!

With its huge ensemble cast of characters, each chapter of Dogeaters presents the point of view of a particular character. This was a comm
Jun 15, 2007 Steve rated it liked it
Often when reading post-colonial works there is a feeling that alternate realities are being described, dream states and counter-histories which have been suppressed or erased by the official history. Hagedorn performs such an archaeological procedure in her ferocious and volcanic work, Dogeaters, a text which systematically dismantles the ruthlessness and heartlessness of the Marcos regime, as well as indicting the American colonial presence which still lingers in the Philippines in the form of ...more
Aug 01, 2007 Paolo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: noone
Why are Asian Ams so frakkin obsessed with 'Dogeaters'? I caught the Papp production of the novel years ago with a fella Flip writer, and we both agreed that ten minutes into the show, we realized that the jokes were on Filipinos and the Philippines. I remember the first line as "Welcome to the toilet zone...", and the play proceeded with its nearly three hour litany against the birthplace of the author. I want those three hours back.
Aug 24, 2010 Dusty rated it liked it
Recommended to Dusty by: Julia Lee
Shelves: read-in-2010
Mostly, I liked this book. Jessica Hagedorn writes a sharp satirical sentence, has a wealth of knowledge of "classic" and "campy" American popular culture, and applies both of these skills naughtily/impactfully. I like that Dogeaters tells the story of an identity- and power-fraught nation (the Philippines) allegorically through the daily struggles of its own identity- and power-fraught inhabitants (cross-dressers, nationalist politicians who buy European fashions, etc.). Some of the characters ...more
Jan 23, 2015 Elissa rated it liked it
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars. I read it as part of the WSJ book club. I actually liked it, and I think it presents a very good portrait of a developing country: the class strata, the dictator, corruption.

The book is slow to develop, and yes, the chapters jump between characters, often with no warning. But I was never confused and ultimately looked forward to certain characters' chapters, especially Joey and Rio.

Catholicism figures prominently in this novel, which can be expected because th
May 29, 2008 Rashaan rated it liked it
There are novels you devour and novels that devour you. Hagedorn consumes; her appetite is voracious and her feast is ours. Dogeaters is alive. The narrative is a polyphonic, frenetic movement of place and character. Readers never really get our bearings. The fluidity of the landscape and people slip through our fingers. No one and nothing can be pinned down. Hagedorn hasn't so much captured on the page a country, its people and cultures at a specific moment in history, but she has tapped into t ...more
Jennifer Lesnick
Mar 05, 2011 Jennifer Lesnick rated it it was ok
Shelves: school-books
Hagedorn describes this book as a love letter to her country. While she certainly is a gifted writer, I can't say that I enjoyed this book. She paints the picture of several different characters and it was difficult for me to keep track of them all. Even more, she paints a realistic picture of the Philippines: there is wealth and then there is extreme poverty. And the poverty that she depicts is brutally painful to read. While I appreciated learning more about the reality of the Philippines, thi ...more
Aug 20, 2007 Andie rated it liked it
Do you know the feeling you get when your drugs run out and you're not in love with that German director john you've been sleeping with and your pimp of an uncle is screwing you over again and your whole country is corrupt and your Lana Turnerish mom is breathing down your neck to start acting like a proper young lady already? Well, you will after you read Dogeaters. It's a crazy fast paced dissection of Manila society circa 1950s/60s, and it rocks.
Mar 25, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
This is quite hard to rate, to be honest.

Our country belongs to women who easily shed tears and men who are ashamed to weep.

Dogeaters is my first Jessica Hagedorn book, and it certainly won't be my last. This is the fourth novel that I've read that revolved around the Martial Law period (more suggestions, anyone?). Admittedly, though, this wasn't really the kind of book I was expecting to read when I started my odyssey to scavenge for novels related to the dictatorship. What I was hoping for
Apr 03, 2017 Victoria rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1990s
Didn't enjoy it, and I don't want to waste another moment. Life is too short to be miserable with a book. DNF halfway through. It was too scattered, no specific style. Just seemed like journal entries strewn together and out of order.
moving right along now.
Michael Justine
Apr 18, 2017 Michael Justine rated it did not like it
Probably the most boring book I have ever read in my life. It also doesn't help that the book employs a post-modern feel that feels rather pretentious than literary for me.
George Deoso
I remember gasping with excitement the moment our Modern Asian Literature professor, Ms. Jaymee Siao (Hi Ma'am! hehe), told us to read this novel. I finally have an excuse to open this book in the middle of other assigned readings for other subjects. It had been sitting on my shelf (beside another Hagedorn book, "Toxicology") for several months now, and just looking at it bugged me because I have this idea that it would be great, and not being able to read it feels like I'm missing something big ...more
Oct 20, 2007 Jenny rated it liked it
This is another book I read for my Asian-American lit class that I wouldn't have read if it hadn't been assigned, and if I had read it, I likely wouldn't have finished it because I found the writing style off-putting. It's very fast, jarring, jolting, MTV generation kind of thing. The perspective shifts from chapter to chapter. One chapter is first person, the next third. You are thrown into the lives of seemingly unrelated people from differing classes, and it's over-stimulating and fast. You d ...more
Dogeaters takes us back to the era of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. Jessica Hagedorn gives us a fast-moving, visceral, at times disorienting, and frequently surreal portrait of the Philippines under harsh repression.

The novel shows us the brutality of the regime by not showing us the dictatorship directly (for the most part), and I think this made it more powerful. Instead, we follow around the denizens of Manila as they just live their lives. We peek into the upper eche
Mar 24, 2011 Glen rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book but I was left confused by the ending. These are one of those books that I will probably reread again to fully understand it. This story was told by different characters and there point of view of life in Manila and as a Filipino. I did enjoy that aspect of the book but I felt that the main point of the story which was how these characters were all connected somehow after the senator was murdered began when the book was almost over. I blame that on the fact that the bo ...more
Apr 24, 2012 Geoff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One part telenovela, one part newspaper serial, one part culture clash and one part comedy of errors, Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn was definitely one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. Winner of the American Book Award and nominated for the National Book Award in 1991, Dogeaters is definitely a unique introduction to the Philippines.

The novel reminded me a lot of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series in it’s breath of coverage and it’s fast paced serialized type chapters.
Ma. Lalaine
Oct 29, 2013 Ma. Lalaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Manila in the 80's. She paints it with vigor and magnanimous character that sometimes you get into the whirl. Who is Joey again? The guy who is poor and a whore. With so many woman in the book I like Daisy but I remember Lolita. You will read the escapades of the young and the old when the city is filled with dirty money and tricks. It beats up the police/military image and the obscene images of the bar in our streets makes you think twice if you want to invite your foreign friends here. ...more
Lola Wallace
I read this book as an undergrad and basically remembered NOTHING about it. nothing stuck. rereading it now, I was again underwhelmed, although the last two chapters (2 pp each) were phenomenal. although I think sudden revelations of narrator unreliability should be used advisedly, and this one seemed kind of weird since it wasn't clear how much of the book was supposed to have been narrated by Rio, and I had no real grasp of her as a character until right before the end, when she talks about he ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Gladys rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-4-school
I really, really liked this book. After reading Rizal's Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), one distinction was at the many similarities these both had. One can even say that it is a contemporary renewal of it.

Unlike Noli, this was way easier and certainly more, how ever disturbing it can be, enjoyable to read. From Rio, to Pucha, Baby, Joey, Lolita Luna, the characters are so rich in their stories, its truly compelling.Even though you have to read more in between the lines to fully grasp at what Ha
John Molina
Nov 21, 2012 John Molina rated it liked it
"Dogeaters" was a good interesting read. The book had some very delusional characters whose delusions served to provide the story its own twisted take on the Americanization of the modern day Philippines. The style and tone of the novel was great, it had dark humor throughout, and, at times through satire, was able to highlight some of the injustices that can occur when a country allows a dictatorship and suppresses free speech. I would have given this book a higher score, but since I read the b ...more
Jee Koh
Feb 28, 2016 Jee Koh rated it it was amazing
Drawn from different sectors of Manila society in the 1950s, the characters in Dogeater are so vividly drawn, so complexly animated, that they appear primed for the big screen that they love so much. Through their interactions, often indirect, Hagedorn lays bare the obsession with American glamor, the ruthless suppression of political dissent, the awkwardness of coming-of-age, the irrepressible yearning for love. The novel is artfully constructed with alternating points of views, supplemented wi ...more
Aug 05, 2013 Sasa rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, fiction
It's funny hearing some of the usual lingo that I've heard in my childhood like "corny". I also really liked that Hagedorn captured the Filipinos interest in movies. I really enjoyed reading this except that there were so many characters and there was a point that I couldn't remember who's who anymore. I just had to let go and try to understand the context of what was going on. It seems that there were 2 main narrators, Rio and Joey. Rio's ending was conclusive but I wonder what happened to Joey ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Literary Fiction ...: Marlon James Picks "Dogeaters" For WSJ Book Club 5 39 Feb 05, 2015 12:28PM  
500 Great Books B...: Dogeaters - Jessica Hagedorn 1 12 Jul 26, 2014 07:33PM  
  • America Is in the Heart: A Personal History (Washington Paperbacks)
  • Rolling the R's
  • The Umbrella Country
  • State of War
  • Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture
  • Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics
  • Dictee
  • Ilustrado
  • American Son
  • No-No Boy (Classics of Asian American Literature)
  • When the Rainbow Goddess Wept
  • Blu's Hanging
  • Eating Fire and Drinking Water
  • The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker: A Collection of Short Stories
  • Dusk (Rosales Saga, #1)
  • The Woman Who Had Two Navels
  • Through the Arc of the Rain Forest
  • Bone
Jessica Tarahata Hagedorn was born (and raised) in Manila, Philippines in 1949. With her background, a Scots-Irish-French-Filipino mother and a Filipino-Spanish father with one Chinese ancestor, Hagedorn adds a unique perspective to Asian American performance and literature. Her mixed media style often incorporates song, poetry, images, and spoken dialogue.

Moving to San Francisco in 1963, Hagedorn
More about Jessica Hagedorn...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“The Suffering Pilipino: We Pinoys suffer collectively from a cultural inferiority complex. We are doomed by our need for assimilation into the West and our own curious fatalism...He describes us as a complex nation of cynics, descendants of warring tribes which were baptized and colonized to death by Spaniards and Americans, as a nation betrayed and then united only by our hunger for glamour and our Hollywood dreams.” 6 likes
More quotes…